Our beautiful baby girl Maeve turned 7 yesterday. 7 days that is.
She’s a newborn. I wrote my take on her birth story here. She’s doing fine. Her primary purposes in life are: breast feeding, pooping, peeing, and sleeping. Frequently she tosses in a bit of hiccuping, arm/leg flailing, grunting and looking – all for good measure.
I am not sure what format is going to work to blog about Maeve… I figure I will start with a couple paragraphs as a sort of status report, then write some not-all-that-deep thoughts about some things I’ve been noticing.
Maeve’s maternal grandparents (two pairs) have been in town for the past two weeks, initially awaiting her birth, and then spending a lot great time with her and with us. It has been great – they’ve been helpful attending to her and cooking and getting things done around here.
On Monday, Day 6, we visited Maeve’s pediatrician for the first time. We walked a half-dozen blocks to get there – the furthest we’ve ever taken her. They measured her. She initially weighed 8lbs 4oz. After 3-4 days she’s lost weight (as is expected) and was down to 7lbs 12oz. At 6 days she’d gained back up to 8lbs 3oz. The Nurse Practitioner we saw basically said “keep doing what you’re doing” because she’s healthy as can be.
>> One of the things I had read early on, that I did find to be true, is that it is worthwhile to limit visiting times. People (more than just grandparents) are really excited about the new arrival… but we parents are getting up in the night and not sleeping so much, so it makes sense to limit visits to a few hours. It’s also good to let visitors help out with cooking, cleaning, holding the baby – while we got to do things like go for (initially very very short) walks together. Limiting visits isn’t so fun for the gatekeeper… but it’s not so bad and I think it is a necessary early dad role.
>> Along with the above gatekeeper thing, I would recommend to new dads to conserve your own energy. Just before he left for California, Carrie’s father took on a handful of home improvement projects. It was really helpful… but I helped out, then felt over-extended. We sealed the wooden deck out back, installed a small canopy shelf-thing over the back door (to prevent rain from wearing on the door below it), and installed a string of lights in the backyard. Right now, I am glad that this work is all done, but I ended up spending the better part of a full day on these things, then felt completely exhausted… better, I think, might have been to take on very small tasks, and to complete one before embarking on another. I know that none of those things are huge… but it was difficult to spend about 5 hours painting sealer on the wood deck, then have my hands full of sealant gunk and not be able to hold my daughter or embrace my wife. I showered, napped, and then felt pretty good… but I think I should have paced myself. (And kudos to my wife Carrie for spotting that I was looking exhausted and letting me and her father know that we were done for the day. Thanks, love.)
>> Maeve pretty much always keeps her thumb tucked into her palm. Initially she also kept her index finger curled above it – tightly tucked in – somewhat like a sort of transformer robot. It did seem to be a great evolutionary trick to save space in the womb (and indeed much her body sort of curls in on itself from time to time.) Everything fits together so precisely. But it’s been seven days and now I start to think that maybe she should be extending her thumb… so it doesn’t get stuck there or something. This seems to be a somewhat typical parental trajectory; things go from “that’s cute” then along to “I wonder if she’s doing that too much or not enough and is it normal or healthy?” Right now the thumb thing is still cute… and I will be happy to see it go, too, whenever she’s ready.
>> She sleeps a lot. A lot. It’s great sometimes. I confess that going back to my nephews Garrett and Miles (who are in college now), I really like it when a baby falls asleep on my chest. It’s just sweet to have this tiny vulnerable creature so close and so calm and so trusting. My eyes are tearing up writing this. The books say that it’s a good thing that the baby doesn’t get too used to this (parents will never get anything done if the baby can only sleep on us), but I recommend enjoying it occasionally while it lasts. Recalling my nephews, it doesn’t last all that long – maybe a few months – and then the baby gets all squirmy and doesn’t want to lie still next to you.
More on the sleeping, though: I don’t blame or fault Maeve for sleeping a lot – it’s her job; it’s what she needs to grow and thrive… but I am looking forward to more interaction – more responsiveness… and soon, talking. I (and her uncle and grandparents I think) would look into her face, talk with her, smile… and her response is more often than not just nodding off for another nap. My advice: don’t expect too much early interaction. I am confident that she’s taking it all in – hearing us, feeling our love, seeing everything around her… but instead of saying “thanks poppy!” or smiling… her response is to slacken her neck, close her eyelids and try to catch some more sleep. Enjoy that while it lasts.
>> I’ve been finding that my emotions are really at the surface. It’s a bit like when I fell in love with my wife. Sometimes holding Maeve, or watching her, or just thinking about her brings tears to my eyes. She’s so tiny, so perfect, so trusting, so vulnerable… it just makes me cry.
>> And one thing that hasn’t gone well yet: “elimination communication.” I’ve been reading The Diaper-Free Baby – about how it’s possible and desirable to work with very young children to recognize their cues and to have them pee or poop outside their diaper (into a bowl, or toilet.) Carrie and I have been noticing patterns – times when she typically eliminates (after feeding, after waking up, after being carried.) Similar to feeding cues (Maeve smacks her lips, licks her tongue against her lip and/or hand, and bounces her head to signal when she wants to feed), babies have elimination cues… We’re trying to learn her cues… but so far we’ve attempted by failed to have her eliminate into anything other than her diaper (and, often, her changing table thingie.) Anyways, stay tuned to The Periodic Fable, and, hopefully, we’ll let you know how “E.C.” works out.